Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

February 18, 2020


Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
(Romans 13:9-10 (NIV))

I hate to say this, but there are people who populate the pews of many churches throughout this world who harm other believers on a regular basis. What does that say about the way that we have faithfully taught what Jesus has commanded us to teach? It is easy to blame the people who harm others, but it is not so easy to take upon yourself the responsibility for their actions.

Should we bear the burden of the responsibility of the actions of other members of the Body of Christ?

I think that we are taught that we do!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
(John 13:34-35 (NIV))

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.
(Romans 12:10 (NIV))

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
(Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV))

If members of the Body have not been taught how to stop doing harm, then the Body has not properly fed them the Word of God. They have not been nourished to the point where they know what is Godly and righteous. They have not been allowed to mature in their faith.

Suppose parents have a child and this child starts to eat solid food. As soon as the child starts to eat, the parents do not turn this child loose and tell him to prepare his own meals. The child must be taught what to eat, what is good for them, and what is bad. All of this must happen before the child can be entrusted to prepare his own meals.

Perhaps the church is guilty of being this neglectful parent. We expect people to intuitively know what God wants them to do, what they are to read and study, and how they are supposed to live. We have not taught them how to not be harmful to others. We have not taught them how to love one another.

What have you taught your “children” in the faith? Do we love each other enough to fulfill the law?

Copyright 1998 – 2020 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Do you trust in God’s plans?

January 18, 2018

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV))

Did you have your life planned out?

How did that work out for you?

Almost everyone quotes this passage when they think of the blessings of God in their lives, but almost everyone fails to recognize one key piece of information about this passage. They forget the context in which it was delivered!

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.
(Jeremiah 29:10 (NIV))

Years prior to these words being recorded, most of the people in Jerusalem were taken into captivity and taken to Babylon. God’s timing was to have the descendants leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem. God spoke these words to the complete group of people who would be fulfilling His will by returning to Jerusalem, by returning to the city that God loves. It was God’s desire to prosper them so that they would not only have a hope and a future, but to be able to give a hope and a future to all of humanity through what would eventually transpire in and around Jerusalem.

I find it saddening that today’s prosperity oriented mindset reads these words and takes what God said to His people in exile and turns it into a promise to make us rich.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
(Romans 3:23 (NIV))

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 (NIV))

God had a plan to give us hope even when we were condemned in our sin and even when we were without hope. If we are all sinners and we deserve death, what type of a future do we have? God realized this and set things in motion to give us hope and a future. God knew that in order to fulfill His promises for this hope and future, He had to move the people back to Jerusalem. He had to set the plans in motion that would bring Jesus into the world. God’s plan was to give everyone a hope of overcoming death and a future in His presence.

Do you trust in God’s plans?

Copyright 1998 – 2018 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What can you do to spread the Word?

July 18, 2012

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
(Romans 1:16 (NIV))

Have you ever truly stopped to reflect on just how powerful words can be?

Words can bring encouragement. They can destroy. Words can bring great joy or great sadness. Words can do tremendous good or bring tremendous harm.

There is one Word that brings eternal life.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(John 1:1 (NIV))

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14 (NIV))

Consider the language that you speak. How many different words do you know? Do any of them carry the power to bring salvation? Only Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, can bring such a promise.

Every day, we speak hundreds, if not thousands of words. We must choose carefully what we say. We must speak the truth of the Word of God so that others may be brought to salvation, for only the Word can save.

Think about how powerful the Word of God has been in your life. What can you do to spread the Word?

Copyright 1998 – 2012 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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How do you view the hard passages of the Bible?

January 14, 2010

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
(2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV))

Have you ever heard the saying “hard passages of the Bible?” This saying refers to passages that we choose to ignore because they are difficult to understand, or because they are difficult to follow. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 is definitely one of these hard passages, and I will probably step on some toes with this.

Think about those words. “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

How do we balance this with the teachings of Jesus? Didn’t He feed the five thousand? Didn’t He tell the parable of the Good Samaritan? How can these teachings coexist with 2 Thessalonians 3:10?

Refusing to work could be considered deceitful, arrogant and folly. These are sins. It is God’s desire for each of us to do his or her part. If we do not do as God desires, we miss the mark. We sin.

For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.’ ”
(Mark 7:22-23 (NIV))

Have you ever known someone who proclaimed a faith in Jesus, but expected everything to be given to them? This is arrogance. We are all sinners. No one deserves anything that is given to us. It is given to us out of grace. Those who expect things to be given to them do not understand God’s grace. They see God as the provider of all that they ask, not as a loving Father who desires spiritual maturity for His creation.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV))

Paul was the author of both 2 Thessalonians and 2 Timothy. God used Paul to show us that even the “hard passages” must be applied in our lives. It is the hard passages that define those who earnestly seek after God’s heart. We are to have compassion and feed the hungry. We are to have compassion and teach the hungry how to feed themselves. This enables us to move on to others who are hungry. It is a fine line that we must walk. We must walk it with prayer, after all, sin is sin, and not a single person alive is without sin.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
(Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV))

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What will you gain when you die?

November 18, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
(Philippians 1:21 (NIV))

Carefully reread these words. Do they have a sound that is contrary to what we, as a society, tend to think about this world, life and “religion?”

Most people think of Jesus as a safety net for when we die, not as a way in which we can live in freedom.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
(John 10:10(NIV))

We are told that Jesus gives us life to the full, yet, we ignore Him until we face dying. Isn’t it just like human nature to have our priorities turned around. We look to the promise of life when we are dying and look to sin and death when we are alive. For those who understand the truth behind these words, life is better with Jesus. There is hope. There is peace and there is grace.

Without Jesus, death is to be feared. We end up eternally separated from God and eternally cast away with Satan. With Jesus, death is not to be feared, for we will see the reward for our faith. We will walk with Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven where we will be eternally at peace and in God’s presence. When we look at it like this, death for a believer is gain. It is not to be feared. It is a reward for our faith and our priorities in this life. We have all heard that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. If we are present with the Lord at our death, then we have “gained” eternal life through grace and mercy. This is truly gain.

What will you gain when you die?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Where do you take refuge?

October 20, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
(Psalms 9:9 (NIV))

Just how big of a trouble do you need before you tun to the Lord for strength and refuge?

Is it something major such as a serious illness or death? Perhaps it is something less serious such as a lost job. Perhaps it is something that doesn’t even effect you as directly as these, such as a slightly prodigal child.

Are you too proud to turn anything smaller than these over to God? Do you honestly think that God doesn’t want to be involved in the smaller matters of your life? What do you do with such things as rushing to work because you overslept? I am sure that we have all said things that we wish we hadn’t said. God can help in these areas, as well. He is a refuge for the oppressed no matter how big or how small the troubles that we find ourselves in.

I would venture to say that we all have people that we like to confide in when things are going less than perfect. Someone who we spill the very details of our troubles to. Why is it that we only turn to God when things are extremely bad? If you don’t believe this happens, look at the increase in church attendance right after September 11, 2001. We are a people looking for solace and comfort. Why do we only earnestly seek this comfort when things are extremely bad?

I honestly think that ego plays a huge part in this, for we all think that we can handle the small stuff, and then, before we know it, we have crossed that fine line that separates small from something we can’t or don’t want to handle. Perhaps we should simply walk with God and allow Him to be our refuge at all times. If we walk with God at all times, the troubles will not seem as big for we will have seen how He can deliver us through each and every trouble that we have had in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong. God will not keep us from the troubles, but He will walk with us through them. He will guide us through the wildernesses of life no matter how big or how small.

Have you turned your troubles over to God? ALL of them?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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What have we to fear?

October 16, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 (NIV))

What is your biggest fear?

Is it losing your possessions? Is it losing your family? Are you terrified by the events currently unfolding in this world? Do you fear growing old? Do you fear the unknown? Do you lie awake at night sweating the bills and how you will pay them? Do you fear that you will lose your job and your home?

Do you fear death?

Ouch!!! There, I’ve said it. I honestly think that this is humanity’s biggest fear.

What is your biggest fear? Can you handle it on your own? Do you have the strength to face it by yourself?

Fortunately, we do not have to face our fears by ourselves. We do not have to walk through this life alone.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4 (NIV))

I just can’t understand how anybody can face this life without the comfort that we are guaranteed of in Psalms 34:4 and Psalms 23:4. The world is a scary place. If you don’t believe me, take a chair and go sit and watch any downtown area of any city. You will see things that God never intended for humanity to endure. No wonder we have fears. No wonder we have stress.

Thankfully, we have a hiding place. We have a source of peace and rest. We have a source of salvation, grace and mercy. Seek the Lord in all sincerity and He will walk with you all the days of your life. He will never abandon you. He will give you strength, peace, and mercy. He will teach you His ways.

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.
(Proverbs 16:7 (NIV))

Fears will abate and the peace that passes understanding will envelope you.

What do you still fear? Turn it over to God.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Torn apart by the venom of judgement

October 15, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.
(Romans 14:13 (NIV))

I hate to say this, but the Church needs to live this out better than it does. All too often, we spend our time judging each other instead of loving and supporting each other.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
(Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV))

We do not have the right to judge each other. How can one filthy rag judge another filthy rag? None of us are worthy and none of us come close to having the authority that is God’s alone to grant. Perhaps it is human nature to be able to see the faults of others because they are the very faults that we try to hide. We see the reflection of ourselves much clearer than we see ourselves and we attempt to fix what we don’t like.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV))

All too often, our judgmental attitudes cause ourselves and others to falter in our walks of faith. We place obstacles to God’s grace in the lives of other people by the things that we do. Gossip, judgmental comments, and many other negative aspects of our daily lives have caused many members of the Body of Christ to leave the Body. I know that one day we will be held accountable for the stumbling blocks that we have placed in the way of others.

The Body of Christ is supposed to be unified by the Blood of Christ and not torn apart by the venom of judgment.

Pray that we will learn not to judge.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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Open mouth, insert foot? Is this what you want to be known for?

October 7, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
(Ephesians 4:29 (NIV))

Words are a powerful device. Words can be uplifting and encouraging. Words can be sad and convey despair. Words can convey affection and in the next breath, they can convey anger. We have a tendency to use words rashly and in haste. It is so easy to let the wrong words slip off of your tongue. I would venture to say that every one of us on this planet has said something today that they wish could be taken back.

Most people think of unwholesome talk as the proverbial four letter words that we all tend to know even if we hate to admit it. However, have you stopped to think about what else may be considered unwholesome?

Words said in anger or in hatred destroy instantly. Words said in frustration never make the situation any better. Words aimed directly at provoking hurt are never able to be recalled. All of these types of words can be unwholesome for they destroy. They do not build up.

Jesus rarely used words that did not build up. I can only think of a few situations that He used terms less than uplifting. I do not think that being called a brood of vipers made those people feel good about themselves. However, even when Jesus said words such as these, they were not expressed in the rage and hatred that we often use. I picture the use of these words more out of pity than out of anger.

Unwholesome talk is anything that destroys what God is trying to accomplish in and through another person. Guard your tongue, for Satan can use it to do just that. Give pause to your words. Let your tongue be guided by the Holy Spirit. He will not give you unwholesome words. He will fill your mouth with words that will be a blessing to all who hear.

What comes from your mouth?

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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September 22, 2009

Be Still . . .
Devotionals for Daily Living©

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives
(Genesis 50:20 (NIV))

Has someone ever treated you really wrong?

What was your reaction at the time? What is your reaction today? Are they the same?

Have you stopped to consider the simple truth that Joseph realized when he was in Egypt? Is it possible that God has been using that very thing that they did to you to mature you and prepare you for something bigger? Think back upon the things in your life that you now have anger and resentment about. What were they? Did your life take a different turn because of what happened? Would you change your life and the people that are now in it for what could have happened if the other events had not happened?

Just as in Joseph’s situation, his brothers intended to do him harm, but God had other plans in store for Joseph, just as He has had other plans in store for you. You life is a series of events, and each event helps to shape the person that God would have you become. Each misfortune builds character and each good fortune that follows helps to build gratitude. Each moment will add to the ones before and slowly build the character traits, and the life, that you have today.

Many people do intend to harm us, but take heart, for God will not allow these trials to overcome us.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 (NIV))

If Jesus has overcome the world, then we have also overcome the world through His atoning blood. Nothing can harm us if we focus on Jesus. No one can ever treat us so wrong that Jesus cannot save us.

Copyright 1998 – 2009 Dennis J. Smock
Daily Living Ministries, Inc.
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